Frank Earle Schoonover was born August 19, 1877 in Oxford, New Jersey. His father, Colonel John Schoonover, was born in 1842 in Pennsylvania. His mother, Elizabeth LeBar, was born in 1840 in PA. His parents married in 1861 and had three children, Hallie (b.1863), John (b.1872), and Frank (b.1877). The family lived at 307 Oxford Avenue in Oxford, NJ. The father was a Superintendent of an Ore Works and Blast Furnace.
By 1887 the Schoonover family had moved to Trenton, New Jersey, where the father worked as an Insurance Agent. The family lived at 302 West State Street in Trenton.
In June of 1896 Frank Schoonover graduated with honors from Model High School in Trenton, NJ. He gave the valedictorian address at the commencement ceremony.
In September of 1896 he began to attend Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, PA, where he studied art with Howard Pyle (1853-1911).
In 1898 he received a scholarship to attend Howard Pyle's Summer Art School at Chadd's Ford, PA, where a select group of ten students received advanced training that was personally tailored for each pupil.
In the Summer of 1899 Frank Schoonover was again privileged to attend Howard Pyle's Summer art school on scholarship.
In the autumn of 1899 he left Pennsylvania and moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where he worked in the art studio of Howard Pyle at 1305 Franklin Street.
In 1900 Howard Pyle left the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia and returned to Wilmington, DE. He worked in his studio and also started his own art school at 907 Delaware Avenue.
Howard Pyle was convinced that American artists should complete their graduate level studies by looking beyond the conventional Grand Tour of Europe. He believed his students would find their own direction by studying American historic roots. In pursuit of this ideal, Frank Schoonover left his art studio in 1903 and journeyed to the Hudson Bay region of Canada, where he traveled by dog sled and snow shoes to gather first-hand experiences of the harsh adventurous life of the North American frontier.
On March 8, 1906 Frank Schoonover moved to 1616 Rodney Street in Wilmington, DE, where he lived and worked. This same building also had art studios occupied by Harvey Dunn, Thorton Oakley (1881-1953), and N. C. Wyeth (1862-1945). This group of artists eventually became known as the Brandywine School.
In 1907 he visited the European cultural centers for a Grand Tour of the art museums and a first-hand experience of the Great Master painters.
In 1910 he lived at the YMCA at 101 West 10th Street in Wilmington, and then moved to 2003 Bancroft Avenue.
On January 18, 1911 he married Martha Culbertson in Philadelphia, PA. She was born August 8, 1881 in Philadelphia. Her father, Samuel J. Culbertson, was born in 1857 in PA. He was a manufacturer of cotton and woolen goods. Her mother, Mary Jamieson, was born in 1858 in PA. The Culbertson family had also moved to Wilmington, where they lived at 2231 Spring Garden Street.
In 1911 Howard Pyle died from illness during a trip to Europe to study Italian frescoes in preparation for his own major mural project. His unexpected death was widely mourned. Along with his impressive art, murals and illustrations, Howard Pyle's greatest legacy was the fire he lit in the spirits of younger artists to work towards uncompensated mystical greatness in their collaborations with industrial commerce to produce an American Art that would transcend the mediocrity of advertising and help the average viewer to sense a profound universal kinship with mankind.
As a disciple of this visionary art teacher, Frank Schoonover painted evocative illustrations for classic literature, such as Ivanhoe, King Arthur, Joan of Arc, Robin Hood, Pirates Stories, Hopalong Cassidy, and John Carter of Mars.
Frank Schoonover illustrated stories for mainstream magazines, such as Country Gentleman, Harper's Weekly, Ladies Home Journal, Scribner's, McClure's, Collier's, Century, The American, and The Saturday Evening Post.
He also painted covers for pulp magazines. His work appeared on Everybody's Magazine, The Popular, and Street & Smith's Western Story.
In 1912 Frank Schoonover and Gayle Porter Hoskins started a community art association that offered art classes to the public of Wilmington. This civic minded organization was incorporated as The Wilmington Society of Fine Arts and gradually evolved into the renowned Delaware Art Museum.
On January 5, 1914 his son Cortlandt Schoonover was born. His daughter Elizabeth Schoonover was born four years later on July 7, 1918.
On September 10, 1918 he reported for draft registration during the Great War. He was recorded at the time to be tall, medium built, with brown eyes and black hair. At the age of forty-one, married and the father of two kids, he was not selected for military service. He painted patriotic illustrations for several national magazines, such as Ladies Home Journal.
In 1931 Frank Schoonover taught a painting seminar at the John Herron Art School in Indianapolis, Indiana.
On April 26, 1942 he again reported for draft registration and was recorded to be five-ten, 139 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair and a light complexion.
In 1942 he started his own art school in his art studio at 1616 Rodney Street in Wilmington.
He contributed several decades of creative energy and artistic oversight to the Immanuel Episcopalian Church in Wilmington, DE, for which he designed impressive stained glass windows.
On August 15, 1965 his wife Martha C. Schoonover died in Wilmington at the age of eighty-four.
In 1968 at the age of ninety-one he suffered a paralyzing stroke, which ended his art and teaching career.
Frank Schoonover died in Wilmington at the age of ninety-five on September 1, 1972.
© David Saunders 2014